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MamaGeek Minis > Hobby > Macro Photography Tutorial

MAMAGEEK MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY TUTORIAL

Here I'll give you step-by-step instructions for taking photos of your miniatures and processing them in photo editing software.

WHAT YOU NEED

Digital Camera
An SLR camera is best, but a high-resolution point-and-shoot can work, too.

Tripod
A tripod is essential, because the slightest shake (and I mean slight), can blur your photos

Lamps
You need at least two to three incandescent lamps, preferably with bendy necks for flexible positioning.

Background Paper
I use a nice sheet of dark gray paper I picked up at a craft store.  Neutral colors are best, like gray, black, white, or brown.  You can print out a fancy background, (Google image search for "photo backdrop") but be careful not to distract from your mini.

Sheet of WHITE paper
This is important.  It will provide your photo editing software with a baseline for white balance corrections.

PHOTOGRAPHY SETUP

Curve your backdrop paper so it seamless, both underneath and behind your mini.  Shine all of your lamps on your figure, as close to the mini as possible, and attach your camera to the tripod, also very close to the mini.  Bendy-necked lamps will help you get very tight lighting.  You can see my own setup in the photo below, where I duct-taped a clothes pin to the neck of the back lamp, and used that to hold my backdrop paper. 

CAMERA SETUP

POINT-AND-SHOOT CAMERA SETUP

Turn off your flash, and set your camera to Macro mode.  Zoom in as far as possible on the mini while still capturing the entire mini in the frame. Depress the shutter trigger halfway to auto-focus. If you can't focus that close, unzoom a bit or move the camera back until you can. 

SLR CAMERA SETUP

Set your camera to Manual mode, set the white balance to incandescent, and the ISO as low as it can go.  Zoom in as far as possible on the mini while still capturing the entire mini in the frame. Depress the shutter trigger halfway to auto-focus. If you can't focus that close, unzoom a bit or move the camera back until you can.  Set your F-stop very high (19 at least).  Set the shutter speed for 0.0 exposure.

TAKING THE PHOTO

If your camera has a 2-second timer, or something similar, turn it on.  When you press the shutter release button to take the picture, you are shaking the camera a tiny bit.  The timer will allow that shake to stop before the photo gets taken.   Now, just before you snap the photo, hold that white paper and insert it in to the very edge of the frame.  You will crop this out later, but it will help your photo editing software to properly calculate white balance corrections.

DIGITAL POST-PROCESSING

You may have to read your software manual or search online for how to do some of these things, but the functions themselves should be available in any good photo editing software, like Photoshop, or Gimp. 

Select a function called something like "Remove Color Cast" (Photoshop) to correct the white balance of the photo.  Auto White Balance may work, but it's not as reliable.  The function should ask you to select a portion of the photo that is white, gray, or black as a reference.  This is where that white paper we used in all our photos comes in very handy.  Just click that spot in your photo, and voila! 

After you fix the colors, crop your image however you like.

There are a few other lighting fixes you can do: adjust levels, brightness/contrast, etc.  One trick I use to lighten photos in Photoshop is to duplicate the layer, set the duplicate layer style to screen, and turn down its opacity until the lighting looks right, then merge the duplicate with the original.